Women watch sports.
They do. In fact, a lot of women watch sports.
And not just women’s sports, they watch all sports. Really.
I don’t know why this is still a revalation in 2017, but it apparently needs to be repeated after NFL quarterback Cam Newton displayed his lack of awareness on Wednesday afternoon.
Newton was asked by a local reporter in Charlotte about teammate Devin Funchess and how his physical route running is helping the offense.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said before answering the question.
Now, there’s a few ways you could take that:
1.) Newton was genuinely surprised to hear an interesting, in-depth question by a woman.
2.) Newton doesn’t think women know about routes and was laughing at the attempt to ask an in-depth question.
3.) Newton doesn’t think women know about football and was laughing at her audacity to ask the question.
None of those are good.
Sports aren’t that hard to understand. Routes, or football in general, are not a difficult concept to pick up for someone who has watched the sport and follows it closely.
Football is the most watched sport in America and is on TV virtually every day from August to February and most of the days in between. Video of nearly every play and analysis of every game is available on countless outlets.
That it would be surprising to anybody that women would be part of that audience is absurd.
The assertion that somehow women aren’t able to pick up on the same intricacies of the sport that men can is insulting.
If you work as a beat writer for an NFL team and have the access to ask the starting quarterback and former league MVP questions, it should be assumed that you know a little bit about the game.
What’s “funny” is that any of this has to be explained in 2017.
Newton was professional enough to answer the reporter’s question in full, but his flippancy as he addressed it brings up a serious issue in sports.
Women who are involved in sports are too often marginalized and made to prove their worth to enjoy sports the same way we do as men.
That goes double for women who work in sports media, who have the credentials to cover sports for a living yet constantly have their intelligence questioned by people who do not.
The reporter in Charlotte shouldn’t have to defend herself for doing her job.
I shouldn’t have to write the obvious.
But, until women aren’t treated as a novelty in sports this will keep happening.
That goes for teams that hold women-only “Football 101” courses and think selling pink jerseys will make up for it. This goes for leagues that think wearing pink for a month makes up for not hiring women to front office positions. That goes for sports networks that literally relegate women to the sidelines in their game coverage. And it goes for news outlets who rarely hire anyone to a sports position that isn’t a white male.
The longer we continue to keep female voices out of sports, the longer we’ll be subject to disrespectful comments like Newton’s.
That’s what this comes down to, basic respect. Respect that someone who isn’t you may possibly also know something.
Women make up half of our population. It’s time for our sports to start acting like that isn’t a surprise.